Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lessons from single moms for all

Still out of commission from the stomach plague, I went to the doctor today who “barred” me from returning to work.. As I teared up, I informed her that:
a) only wimps don’t go to work for a week due to illness
b) I’ve spent an average of 20 mins a day with my daughter since I got sick.
She ritually absolved me from all “mom guilt” citing that letting Grace watch two episodes of Sesame Street back to back is ok because I don’t do it normally and right now is not a normal time.

The stomach plague has left me feeling deflated, personally and professionally (and physically!), as I’m used to functioning at 200% and I’m not feeling up to par right now.  As I came home to throw myself a pity party, I came across an article from Working Mother magazine: “Single Mom’s: The One and Only”.  The article bestows tips and survival techniques learned from single moms that any mom can benefit from to manage a demanding job, nurture a growing child, and maintain a functioning household.  Never has a truer line been written, “In a Darwinian sense, we have adapted to our environment and have evolved—by freakish fate—into a stronger species.”

In case you are like me and don’t have time to read the full article, here are the tips in short order:

Lessons from Single Moms
1. Broaden your idea of "right" and "wrong." It's liberating to realize how many choices you have once you start doing things your own way. Your family eats late? Great, you have family dinner. Your kid brings takeout for multicultural week? Cool. Doing what works for your family takes the pressure off and makes everyone—parents and kids—happiest.
2. Plan ahead. Have not just Plan B but Plans C and D on deck, too. This way, when things don’t go according to Plan A (and inevitably they won’t), you won’t feel like the entire ship is going down.
3. Make “me time” a must-do. Single moms know more than anyone else the truth in the saying, “Happy mommy, happy baby.” Even if you can’t get to yoga every day, taking 15 minutes to thumb through a magazine, soak in the tub or chat on the phone with a friend will do wonders for your mood and energy.
4. Make it simple. Instead of feeling guilty for taking the easy way out, realize how brilliant you are! When I send my son to school with the pre-made costume instead of having slaved over a homemade one for days, I look at the other moms and think, “Too bad for you—I got to watch Downton Abbey.”
5. Have lots of rituals. Pizza night, movie night, babysitter night. Knowing what’s happening, and when, frees up tons of bandwidth for you and makes things fun for kids.
6. Use the village. Even if you’re not the asking type, you’ll be surprised how much neighbors, colleagues and other kids’ moms actually enjoy helping people out. Let them!
7. Laugh out loud. Perfection is never funny; in fact, it’s boring. You want funny? Let things go wrong, and enjoy telling that story for years to come.

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